Mavi Marmara, 2010.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“The Israeli state and Israeli nation is a friend of Turkey without a doubt,” Omer Celik, a spokesperson for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, said on Sunday during a press conference in Ankara according to reports by the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
According to the report, Celik said that while a final agreement had yet to be signed, Israel and Turkey were working on a draft agreement to improve ties between the two nations at a meeting in Switzerland between the incoming head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, Israeli envoy Joseph Ciechanover and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.
“There is no concrete agreement, [or] anything that has been signed," said Celik according to the report. "Efforts have been ongoing for a draft,” he added.
"Our criticisms made up until now were about the Israeli government's extreme acts, the acts that we don't see as legitimate,” Celik said.
The once-strong Israel-Turkey alliance has soured dramatically under Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan, who heads the Islamist-rooted AK Party, reaching a low with the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship. Efforts to reconcile the countries, including a 2013 phone call between Erdogan and Netanyahu that was brokered by US President Barack Obama, have yet to yield a final deal on restoring full diplomatic ties.
Ankara set precise conditions for normalizing ties - an apology, compensation and Israel lifting its embargo on Gaza. Celik signaled a final agreement would depend on these conditions.
"Turkey has three precise conditions for normalizing ties - an apology, compensation and the lifting of an embargo on Gaza. Our first condition is fulfilled but the remaining two have not been met yet. Therefore, our people should know we have no doubt that this draft will be shaped within these parameters," he said.
"A deal has not been signed yet. Talks will continue until an agreement is finalized. During this period, we will observe whether these three conditions are met or not. This will be our requirement," he added.Reuters and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.